Importers will get first-hand authentic information about their containerized cargo at Mombasa thanks to the good relations between Uganda and Kenya. In a new procedure expected to ease business, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will provide a list of containers destined to Uganda each month. Richard Kamajugo, the Commissioner Customs, said the update would give the number of containers and how long they have been at Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coastline.
“There have been complaints that we are disaantaged because we have no direct access to the coast. However, the problem was that communication between the sister revenue authorities was not seamless,” Kamajugo stated.
To serve their clients more efficiently, KPA and its Ugandan counterpart have since “streamlined communication and exchange of information,” he added.
This cooperation has culminated into the new cargo updates among other beneficial initiatives. According to Kamajugo, whenever KPA provides the list, URA will upload it on its portal – http:ura.go.ug.
On visiting the portal, one has to click on notifications and proceed to public notices in the drop down. The next dropdown leads a visitor to a link titled Uganda-Bound Containers in Mombasa. This is further subdivided into container inventory and notice for the containers.
The container inventory shows the container number, date and time of arrival at Mombasa, consignee and duration at the port. The notice is a summary published in newspapers.
“People no longer have any excuses not to pick their cargo from Mombasa and, most importantly, they do not have to rely on agents or other people thousands of miles away for information regarding their cargo,” Kamajugo stated, adding: “We are bringing information to people at no cost.”
The information would help importers avoid storage charges resulting from containers that have overstayed at Mombasa, Kamajugo said. Hitherto, information regarding cargo was unreliable as importers relied on informers who gave feedback on phone. Sometimes the owners were informed a week or a fortnight after the goods’ arrival.
To kick-start the move, KPA provided URA with the March status of Uganda-bound containers. A total of 1,432 containers destined to Uganda were at the port on March 6, 2014. A notice regarding the cargo was published in the newspapers on March 13.
“Owners of these goods are requested to immediately clear the goods out of the port as delays in clearance will lead to accumulation of storage and customs warehouse rent charges,” the notice signed by Kamajugo read in part.
Uganda Shippers Council boss, Charles Kareba, praised the updates, saying: “Information is important all the time especially if it is about one’s goods.”
Sometimes, he argued, delays at the ports are a consequence of the shippers’ ignorance of their cargo’s status, which leads to high storage charges. Cooperation between URA and agencies that handle Uganda-bound goods has birthed several measures meant to facilitate trade.
Among them is the Single Customs Territory that enables importers to clear goods at Mombasa before proceeding hassle-free to destinations. Additionally, following engagements with the Kenya Pipeline Company, fuel importers can book for the loading of their fuel up to 4pm.
Formerly, the booking would end at midday. The company also accepted to work up to 6pm on Saturday.
The writer works with URA’s Public and Corporate Affairs Division.
Source : The Observer